With his first adult fiction, polymath author Nardo (France: Enchantment of the World, 2007, etc.)—composer, musician, actor, screenwriter, historian and prolific writer of nonfiction—shoots for the stars and a great deal beyond. At first, his novel seems to poach on Da Vinci Code territory—incredible artifacts, clues in famous artworks, etc.—but it has the audacity to go right to the god behind it all. David Welles, protagonist in this ensemble narrative, is a widowed writer with a strong science background. Not particularly religious, he nonetheless finds himself assailed by visions of crucifixion, strange tombs, bizarre weather and other foreboding stuff, connected to an obscure book of apocalyptic prophecies that has also inspired maverick archaeologist Arthur MacKnight on a global quest to document miracles and marvels. MacKnight’s latest discovery, an ancient hideaway in the Middle East and its astounding contents, may shake the foundations of Christendom. A recurring bearded man appears in visions to yet more individuals around the world, apparently offering psychic enlightenment. Generally laid out in short, addictive Dan Brown–esque chapters, the narrative time-hops back to Greek inventor Philemnion of Rhodes and painter Jan Vermeer for key bits of the overall puzzle about what could be Earth’s imminent divine judgment. It says something that the most far-fetched element in Nardo’s matter-of-fact presentation seems less the overall presence of an eons-old supreme being mucking about with humanity than the way characters jet-set around the world, from Palestine to rural Vermont to Stonehenge, with ridiculous ease and, in one case, despite serious bullet wounds. Readers who take the LaHaye/Jenkins Armageddon thrillers as gospel may find this too secular, since its ultimate message is ethical more so than spiritual, with sci-fi science in place of the supernatural and no Satan figure to take the bad-guy role.
Slick religious—but not evangelical—sci-fi that could score points particularly with readers who sport those Darwin fish bumper stickers.